Feeds

Is it true my body is not entirely alive?

The dead bits that keep us kicking

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

So you think you’re all alive? Think again. As strange as it may seem, the human body is not entirely "alive". A small part of us is not alive, never has been, and never will be. Ironically, what's not alive is vital to what is.

Ninety-six per cent of the human body is alive. This part is composed of living, "organic elements" present in many different forms. DNA, RNA proteins, lipids, and sugars are all composed of primarily oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, and nitrogen. In addition, water (H2O) and carbon dioxide (CO2) as well as other small molecules are involved in these elements. The proportions are oxygen (65 per cent), carbon (18.5 per cent), hydrogen (9.5 per cent), and nitrogen (3.2 per cent).

The remaining 3.8 per cent of the human body is technically composed of non-living, "non-organic elements" in the form of salts. Although their quantities are fairly miniscule, they are absolutely critical for the maintenance of the body's structure and smooth working order. For example, calcium is a major component of bones and teeth. Potassium keeps the heart beating evenly and regularly. Iron is necessary for the movement of oxygen by red blood cells.

The breakdown of this 3.8 per cent consists of calcium (1.5 per cent), phosphorus (1.0 per cent), potassium (0.4 per cent), sulphur (0.3 percent), chlorine (0.2 per cent), sodium (0.2 per cent), iodine (0.1 per cent), iron (0.1 per cent), and magnesium (0.1 per cent). The remaining 0.5 per cent is composed of trace elements, including chromium, cobalt, copper, fluorine, manganese, molybdenum, selenium, tin, vanadium, and zinc.

Some of these trace elements are part of critical body enzymes. Without these enzymes we’d die and all of our body wouldn't be alive.

Stephen Juan, Ph.D. is an anthropologist at the University of Sydney. Email your Odd Body questions to s.juan@edfac.usyd.edu.au

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
MEN: For pity's sake SLEEP with LOTS of WOMEN - and avoid Prostate Cancer
And, um, don't sleep with other men. If that's what worries you
Voyager 1 now EIGHTEEN LIGHT HOURS from home
Almost 20 BEEELION kilometres from Sol
HUGE SHARK as big as a WWII SUBMARINE died out, allowing whales to exist
Who'd win a fight: Megalodon or a German battleship?
Jim Beam me up, Scotty! WHISKY from SPAAACE returns to Earth
They're insured for $1m, before you thirsty folks make plans
ROGUE SAIL BOAT blocks SPACE STATION PODULE blastoff
Er, we think our ISS launch beats your fishing expedition
Comet Siding Spring revealed as flying molehill
Hiding from this space pimple isn't going to do humanity's reputation any good
BAE points electromagnetic projectile at US Army
Railguns for 'Future fighting vehicle'
LONG ARM of the SAUR: Brachially gifted dino bone conundrum solved
Deinocheirus mirificus was a bit of a knuckle dragger
prev story

Whitepapers

Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Getting ahead of the compliance curve
Learn about new services that make it easy to discover and manage certificates across the enterprise and how to get ahead of the compliance curve.